"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19

"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19
"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

My Apologies - Tuesday, February 5, 2019

In looking back at my blog, I notice I haven't posted since December. Yikes! Where does the time go? To be accurate, two blogs were started, but are still drafts. 

Yes, we have been on a couple of trips. And, yes, they were fun, educational, and exciting. 

However, with Bob taking a break from work, we're planning an epic trip. That has taken my time away from blogging. But, oh, the places we'll see! Life is good.

In January, I went from blonde to brunette/reddish brown. I took this step so I wouldn't have to spend a lot of money getting my hair color done on vacation. Bob and I are still getting used to it. 

The 'gator bench got me in West Monroe, LA!
Blogging is still important to me and I have to catch up. It will be like writing a novel.

If you follow me on Google+ or write comments on my blog from Google+, you won't be able to do that anymore because Google+ is going away. You will need to go directly to my blog at https://travelbug-susan.blogspot.com to comment. I think this is set to happen in April. Google said not enough individuals use Google+ and there were security concerns. They will keep Google+ for business, however. All Google+ accounts will be deleted.

I will not be writing my old blogs in any particular order, just as the muse strikes. The blogs will be in chronological order in blogger, though. You can find all my old blogs going back to 2011 in the right-hand column of my blog.

So just a few notes about what's been going on and what to expect. Our plan is to go to the Escapees Escapades RV Rally in Tucson in March, visit relatives in Phoenix, and then head out to the Northeast. "On the way there," we will go to Hot Springs, Arkansas; Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia, and surrounds; Dover, Delaware; Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland; Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Hershey, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Trenton, New Jersey; New York City, West Point, Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Albany, New York -- at that point we'll be in upstate New York and exploring the Northeast.

Two conventions will fall into our timeline and were the catalyst that started this whole adventure:

  • In June, we will go the American Volkssport Association (AVA) convention in Albany, New York. That is the walking club I belong to. They will have ten pre-convention, convention, and post-convention walks over the course of eight days from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Buffalo, New York.
  • In October, Washington, D.C. will again host the International Marching League convention (a sister to the AVA). Susan Medlin and I went to this in 2018. Now I can share it with Bob.
In addition, we're hoping to time fall colors right starting in Maine and working our way south. There will also be a few 5k/10k Appalachian Trail walks as well. 

We're hoping this trip exceeds our 2014 vacation to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for fall colors. Both of us are so excited to get started.

This should be the start of many more blogs. Enjoy your day.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

It's 75 degrees in the dead of winter - Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019

Today, we're getting our Volksmarch on and doing one of the Texas Coastal Cities special program walks in Port Aransas, Texas. From Ransom Road RV Park in Aransas Pass, we had to drive and take the very short (5 minute), free ferry ride over to Port Aransas, Texas. 

Normally, you can take RVs and big rigs on the ferry; however, not when the tide is out. Luckily, we had our 5th wheel parked, so when we saw the sign that  the tide was out, we were glad we weren't hauling the trailer with us.

On our way to the ferry, we passed a dock where work was being done on three seadrills. These look like the oil platforms used out in the gulf.

Seadrills at the dock, West Sirius.
When we moved up closer to the ferry, we had a good view of wind turbine propellers being off-loaded from a ship. As we got out on the water, we had a better view of a seadrill too.

Propellers stacked on the ship.
Off-loading propeller parts.
Port Aransas Ferry System.
Ship and seadrills. Seadrills are in the water.
As you can see, it's a gorgeous mid-winter day. Sometimes we spot dolphins in the water from the ferry, but not today. Our trip across the water was uneventful. 

Today, we're doing a 10k Port Aransas Beach Volksmarch that starts at a motel. We got a little turned around at the beginning of the walk, because the map on the back of the directions did not match the written instructions. That's okay because I got some great pelican photos.

We apparently were supposed to follow Cotter from the front of the motel directly south to the beach. However, the street did not have a sign on it. The map showed going over to the beach park by the ferry and doing a loop around there. Anyway, we figured it out and stuck to the written directions from then on.

On Cotter St. we found some pretties to look at. 

Me in one of the guppies at a seafood restaurant.
All around Port Aransas, people decorate Farley boats and put them in front of their homes and businesses. I thought the one below was cute. The skipper is a cat with binoculars.

Close-up Skipper Cat in Farley boat.
Below is the Tarpon Inn. It has a long and varied history. 

From the historical marker in front of the inn: 
In 1886, Frank Stephenson, a boat pilot and assistant lighthouse keeper, opened an inn here in an old barracks. He called it "Tarpon Inn" for the abundant trophy fish in the Gulf waters. For a short time Port Aransas was known as "Tarpon."

In 1897, the Cotters bought the two-story inn from Stephenson. When that building burned to the ground in 1900, two new structures were built in 1904. When the 1919 hurricane destroyed the main structure, the dining facility was used until it was sold in 1923 to the Ellis's. They rebuilt the inn to resemble the old barracks. However, James Ellis placed 20-foot poles in 16 feet of concrete with pilings at the corner of each room to reinforce it against future hurricanes.

Franklin D. Roosevelt fished here in 1937. Duncan Hines (of cake mix fame) spent his honeymoon here and recommended the food for the next 25 years.

The hurricane reinforcement put in by James Ellis worked, and in the intervening years the inn has housed many area residents during storms and served as headquarters for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and military units. 

This is where I'm coming if I'm ever stuck in a hurricane in Port Aransas!

Tarpon Inn.
Love the surfboard at Potter on Cotter.
For Sandcastle Lessons call...
I always like to see what's on storm drains.
As we approached the beach, we read a number of historical markers about an oil storage facility under the dunes being a target for German subs. Cannon emplacements on top of the dunes and watch towers on shore guarded against an attack, and U.S. ships and planes hunted for a sub. I don't know if they found one.

Just past the history markers is the Marine Science Education Center of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. They have a trail by their building which the Volksmarch club may want to investigate and include in future walk directions. Plus, if the Marine Science Education Center is open when you walk by, it may be worth a stop to see what's there. We did not go in today. They were re-roofing it and it didn't look open.

Roofing the Marine Science Education Center.
From there, we went around a corner and were greeted by a pond and the Gulf of Mexico. What a glorious day! We wore shorts and T-shirts in the middle of winter and got a tan today. 75 degrees! Score, we came on a good winter day.

Quite a few people out on the jetty.
Still damaged from Hurricane Harvey.
Gulf of Mexico.
Horace Caldwell Pier.
At the pier, our walk instructions said: "Left on the beach with dunes on right and ocean on left. CONTINUE along the beach until you reach Sand Castle Drive. (Fourth beach exit to the right after Caldwell Pier.)"

This is where our biggest walk issue started. To me, fourth beach exit after Caldwell Pier means you don't start counting beach exits until the next one AFTER the pier. And what exactly are "beach exits?" Are they only roads or do they count all the driveways accessing the beach? If we HAD counted the beach access road DIRECTLY ACROSS from the pier instead of AFTER it, we would have been okay.

There was NO sign on Sand Castle Drive. We had only counted three beach exits (we assumed roads) AFTER the pier. We continued to walk another 1/4 mile down the beach but didn't see any more exits as far as we could see. 

We went back to the last road we had seen and turned there. A long block later we saw a road sign for Sand Castle Drive. Suggestion for the directions: Instead of saying fourth beach exit, name the two hotels that are at that beach exit since there is not a road sign. 

Enough rant, back to the beachy part of the walk. It was a Sunday morning and people were building sandcastles on the beach. The grouping below were of churches and they had a bowl out for offerings.

As we walked the beach, we saw a huge tour bus pull up from Pennsylvania. A lot of Amish kids piled off the bus. The girls had on the long dresses and hair caps. The boys had on pants with suspenders and long-sleeved shirts. They were all wide eyed and enjoying the weather and the beach. Many of them made a bee-line for the Port-a-Potties. LOL.

Kite flying was another popular activity.
Another sandcastle.
Close-up of tower.
Port Aransas and points east were hit pretty hard by Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 and the days following. Port Aransas is doing a good job with recovery, but there is still evidence of damage in places: twisted metal sign in front of a business, missing roofs, missing shingles, piles of debris.

Port A Strong...through Harvey, hell, and high water.
Debris pile in Port Aransas, Texas.
 Below, are some very cute beach cart rentals.

Li'l Mater

A Farley boat installation at an intersection. This looks like New England to me.

Farley boat decoration at an intersection.
Bob in the maw of the whale.
"Tarpon" dedicated September 27, 1986.
No artist mentioned that I could see.
We made it back to our start point without further problems. However, we did walk 11k instead of 10. The walk was great. We loved being along the beach. 

Dave and Faye Malouf came over for dinner. They are staying in Port Aransas until February when they depart for points north and east. We had a fun time chatting with them about the East Coast and we will hopefully see them near Bar Harbor, Maine in the late summer when we're on our trip.

Tomorrow, we're off to tour the USS Lexington. Can't wait!